Sewickley Academy’s Severin Harmon shines in WPIAL singles tournament

Sunday, April 23, 2023 | 11:01 AM

A budding WPIAL tennis rivalry took place April 12 at the Class 2A singles tournament held at Bethel Park.

Winchester Thurston’s Austin He, the top-seeded 2A singles player as a freshman, defeated Sewickley Academy sophomore and second seed Severin Harmon in the championship match by scores of 6-2, 6-4.

The top four finishers in Class 2A qualified for the PIAA tournament set for May 26-27, at the Hershey Racquet Club.

“I felt like I played good and adjusted to the conditions well,” Harmon said, “but Austin is a really tough opponent so that match was super difficult. I’m really excited to get the opportunity to go to states individually, and I hope that we can take the team there, as well.”

Harmon dropped a total of four games en route to the WPIAL finals and defeated No. 3 seed Jackson Gillespie of Aquinas Academy, 6-2, 6-1, in the semifinal round.

He, one of the top freshmen in the state, lost three games in two matches and beat No. 5 John Rohrkaste of Montour, 6-2, 6-0.

He is the first boys’ player from Winchester Thurston to claim a WPIAL singles title since 2011 when Daniel Goldblum won the second of his two championships. He is also the first freshman to win in 2A since Sewickley Academy’s Luke Ross took the first of his three in 2014.

The two finalists competed in windy conditions at Bethel Park and in some of the warmest temperatures of the spring.

And they were no strangers to each other having played together and against each other in tournaments.

He led Harmon 4-2 in the first set before winning the last two games.

Harmon held leads of 2-1 and 4-3 in the second set but He rallied to hold serve and break Harmon before serving out the match at 5-4.

“This was, by far, (Austin’s) toughest match,” Winchester coach Joe Camillo said afterwards. “He faced adversity well. Conditions were tough at times with the wind and the sun on the one side. He’s a real player, and I wish him so much luck as he goes for it at states.”

Harmon and senior teammate Jonathan Varghese ended up first and second in the Section 4 singles playoffs at Brady’s Run Park to qualify for the WPIAL tournament.

Harmon received a first-round bye then blanked Riverside senior Sam Hughes, 10-0, and Blackhawk freshman Ben Crefeld, 6-0, 6-0.

Varghese beat Beaver Falls senior Lincoln Jansen, 10-0, Central Valley junior Nathan Lion, 10-0, and Beaver senior Andrew Cavett, 6-2, 6-2.

Harmon defeated Varghese in the championship match, 6-2, 4-6, 6-0.

Varghese landed the No. 8 seed for the WPIAL tournament and defeated Chartiers Valley senior and ninth seed Liam Peterson, 10-2, in the first round before losing to Winchester Thurston’s freshman sensation in the quarterfinals, 10-1.

“It was great being able to compete at sectionals and WPIALs alongside Severin,” Varghese said. “We both had high hopes going into the tournaments. We ultimately had a thrilling three-set match in the section final, and both of our levels were really high. I’m proud of Severin for making the WPIAL finals and can’t wait to see what he does at the state tournament in Hershey.

“Although I was disappointed with my result, I’m more motivated to continue pushing my tennis forward and leading my teammates as captain this year.”

Along with Harmon and Varghese, SA team members consist of seniors Terrance Krysinski and Alexander Quigley, juniors Logan Carlson and Jackson Quigley, and sophomores Jason Chen and Sebastian Tan.

“I’m serving as the sole team captain once again and it’s a great honor,” Varghese said. “It’s about setting an example and being a leader to the younger guys on the team who don’t have as much experience.

“At the end of the day, it’s a pride thing. And more importantly, it’s all about relationships in this sport.”

As of April 17, Sewickley was 7-0 and stood comfortably in first place in Section 4.

The Panthers had blanked Beaver, Ellwood City, Central Valley and Beaver Falls by 5-0 scores, and defeated Blackhawk, 4-1.


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